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Novo Joins Research Team

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Novo Nordisk and Merck are the newest members of the GPCR Consortium, a global nonprofit researching a little-understood protein.

The group, which also includes Amgen, Sanofi and Ono, is concentrating on proteins called G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), which play a role in a wide variety of processes in the body. Working with universities in China and the U.S., the member companies plan to conduct a precompetitive research collaboration in an effort to map the 826 known GPCRs, which are currently poorly understood, but could be valuable drug targets, the partners say.

The iHuman Institute at ShanghaiTech University, the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica and the University of Southern California are working with the scientists. The consortium also plans to recruit three more pharmaceutical companies to help with the research.

Consortium members will be working to uncover the structural coordinates of each protein using cutting-edge imaging technology, starting off on the GPCRs related to diabetes, cancer and mental disorders, the group said. All of the consortium’s findings will published in the public domain.

“Of the 826 known human GPCRs, today we only have structures of 26,” Novo Head of Global Research Peter Kurtzhals said in a statement. “The GPCR Consortium has created a unique opportunity to bring together the complementary skill sets and resources of pharmaceutical companies and academic research centers to study 200 additional human GPCRs, relevant to human disease and therapeutic intervention, in an organized and targeted fashion.”